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Job Numbers Give Obama Reason to Smile

Job Numbers Give Obama Reason to Smile

By Alexis Simendinger - December 5, 2014

What will it take for Americans to feel jolly about the economy?

That’s a question President Obama has been asking since the start of his presidency.

With the government’s release of boffo jobs news Friday, Obama tiptoed toward exuberance, not just about the new statistics but also about Americans’ compensation, which has languished.

“The pickup in the pace of job growth this year has been in industries with higher wages,” the president said with enthusiasm. “And overall wages are rising -- a very welcome sign for millions of Americans.”

Unemployment held at 5.8 percent in November, but businesses added more than 300,000 jobs, fueling a pace of job creation not seen since the prosperous 1990s, when Bill Clinton occupied the Oval Office.

The overall economy created 2.65 million jobs in 2014 through November, and 10.9 million over the last four years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It’s been a long road to recovery from the worst economic crisis in generations, and we still have a lot of work to do,” Obama added.

Rosier economic indicators pose implications for the politics in Washington next year, when trade, tax reform, and the Affordable Care Act -- not to mention federal budgeting -- are among Republicans’ priorities.

An expanding economy, lower deficits and higher consumer confidence could add a new story line to the partisan debate between Democrats who focus on the middle class and Republicans who advocate for the business community and lower taxes.

“The strength that we’re exhibiting here is significant, and particularly as it relates to the kinds of economic projections that have been in place over the last few years,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

But those lagging during the economic expansion include many middle-class families who “aren’t benefiting from it as much,” Earnest added. “Corporate profits are at an all-time high [and] the stock market continues to improve,” he said. 

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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